Paul Jacob

Often, national politics seems like the Peanuts cartoon: Lucy grips the football, promising to hold steady; Charlie Brown runs to kick the ball, and Lucy swipes it away at the last moment.

The American people want an end to all sorts of corruption and folly in Washington. That’s not asking for much. They’d probably be ecstatic if the federal government just lived within its revenue and spent more only after more revenue was received. You know, like normal people. Like good, virtuous people.

And they’d love it if politicians wouldn’t line their pockets, if politics wasn’t so driven by ensured incumbency, insider favors, and incompetence on matters of great trust.

But no: the politicians play the part of Lucy. They snatch away what they promise. The power of incumbency and rigged rules often minimize our choices to bad and worse. When we miraculously elect a good guy, he “goes Washington” on us, joining the bad guys and continuing America’s reckless advance into insolvency.

I’m upset. You’re upset.

And so is Ralph Nader.

Nader?

Yes. His latest book does more than suggest a solution. He proposes a grand left-right alliance. He’s asking Republicans to forget the insider favorites like McCain and Romney and Democrats to forget folks like the Clintons. Work, instead, to achieve shared goals.

He thinks this plan is Unstoppable. And that’s the title of his book.

On a family vacation, I’ve been reading it when I get a chance. There’s much that I disagree with here, but the big proposal is pretty sound. For progressives, conservatives, libertarians and independents often do have a lot they can work together on and accomplish.

Indeed, Nader envisions “left” and “right” in a coalition built firmly on common ground working for things such as

  • full initiative and referendum rights in every state and locality;
  • stricter ethical standards for representatives;
  • an end to bailouts of businesses and investors;
  • a rational attack on the eternal and sumptuous giveaways to contractors for the Pentagon;

and much more. He calls the common enemy “corporatism,” and has the wit to see that this reign of insiders works by dividing Americans so that we can’t fully and effectively confront those fleecing us.

I’m especially gratified to note that Nader cites one of my activist organizations, Citizens in Charge, for its efforts putting, well, citizens in charge. He calls us a “convergent group”—meaning that we work across ideological lines for strategic, common goals.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.